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NFLGround >> Mock Draft #2 (Updated January 18)


1/18/11 4:40 PM
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Nanook
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Edited: 02/03/11 6:13 PM
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As was the case with the last, this will be multiple posts.

Several notable updates are here from my first one. Also added: New England (again), Baltimore, Seattle and Atlanta's picks.

Feel free to my picks and your thoughts.

(Picks 1-4)

1. Carolina Panthers
Nick Fairley
DT
Auburn


- Poor Panther fans.

Needless to say, 2010 has been largely the year to forget. First, they lose Julius Peppers, who was without question the best player that franchise has ever had; and the most popular to boot.

Then, on field, they are completely, historically dreadful and have their worst season in franchise history, falling to 1-15, and were every bit as poor as their record indicated.

For the Panther fan base, their only saving grace was the certainty that Andrew Luck was going to be waiting for them to pick him at #1 overall. Luck had walked in to a Stanford program that had been dreadfully bad over the last 10 seasons and he revived them. Surely, he was going to do the same for Carolina, right?

Oops. After announcing he was forgoing the draft and returning to Stanford for another season, instead of chanting Luck, Panther fans were stuck instead yelling something that sounds quite similar, with F replacing the L.

Now with Luck gone, the million dollar question is, now what?

I'm gonna roll the dice with this one. I originally tinkered with the idea of putting Nick Fairley of Auburn, as Carolina ranked 23rd in the NFL against the rush and really seemed to lack a dynamic pass rusher.

This said, I think WR is a legit need. Steve Smith has aged and quickly. Even though I like Brandon LaFell and David Gettis, neither of them really fills the role of a prototypical #1 WR. Green is easily the best WR to hit the draft since Calvin Johnson, and has the Larry Fitzgerald/Andre Johnson mold of being a player who can take over a game. Carolina's offense stunk out loud in 2010 (ranked 32nd in passing yards, points and total yards), Green will be a major step forward towards fixing it and improving it for the long haul.

Just as quickly as I put Green here, it wouldn't stun me one iota to see the Panthers take Auburn's Nick Fairley. Their DTs are mediocre, and they ranked 23rd against the run in 2010, thus Fairley could fit a major need. Plus, he'd add another pass rusher to their defense.

As of now though, I'm going to slot the Panthers to select Green. That 32nd ranked passing offense needs major help, and the QB class remaining has way too many holes.

2. Denver Broncos
Dequan Bowers
DE
Clemson


- To me, this is a toss up between Peterson Fairley. Denver's Defensive Tackles and run defense are horrendous, thus it wouldn't stun me one bit to see them go with Fairley. However their secondary is heading into a bad spot as well. Champ Bailey is a free agent, and has indicated the turnover and uncertainty is something he wants no part of at this point in his career. Parrish Cox, who was their second starter this season appears headed to jail following rape allegations being levied against him.

Peterson has been a shutdown corner from the day he stepped foot in Baton Rouge. His talents project very well to the next level, and he'd be a much needed infusion of new blood into Denver's quickly deteriorating secondary.

3. Buffalo Bills
Nick Fairley
DT
Auburn


- Less than two months ago, Buffalo seemed a lock for the #1 overall pick. The team played with a ton of heart, however they seemed to be lacking at certain positions, and seemed to be on the wrong side of some bad bounces.

However, something happened on the way to the top spot.. The team started winning games. By virtue of their lucky breaks (no pun intended), they essentially played themselves out of the Luck sweepstakes. However, with Fairley, they get a major coup and benefit from falling. Go figure.

While their pass defense is VASTLY underrated and extremely good (Buffalo ranked 3rd in the NFL in pass defense), they lack pass rushers(Aaron Maybin has been a huge bust) and their run defense could use some help.

Fairley offers help on both categories. I look at Fairley the same way I view Albert Haynesworth at his best. It's almost uncanny too because Fairley is a guy who needs a fire lit under his rear end at times, like Haynesworth did. However, when he does, he's got potential and capability of capability of dominating games, as he did in the Iron Bowl against Alabama, completely making a strong Crimson Tide offensive line look like bush leaguers; then again in the SEC title game. He then feasted on the Oregon oline in the BCS title game and was clearly the best player on the field. Having him in tow will make Buffalo's defense much better. As is, I think they're not far from respectability, and a player like Fairley could allow them to make that step forward.

4. Cincinnati Bengals
De'Quan Bowers
DE
Clemson

- It seems hard to fathom that this team just 12 months ago won the AFC Central, and seemed to be on the rise.

One year later, Cincinnati sits in all too familiar territory, back in the top of the draft, and with many question marks that they have to answer.

Will Carson Palmer be brought back behind center, or do the Bengals need to move in a different direction? Four weeks ago, it seemed like Palmer was taking his final bow as a Bengal. Then, Terrell Owens was lost for the season, Chad Ocho Cinco was hurt and suddenly, Palmer looked like the Palmer of old, leaving questions as to whether or not he truly was the problem.

With this said, WR could be a need. It has already been confirmed Owens won't be returning for a second season in Cincinnati, and one wonders if 2011 will be the season where Ocho Cinco suits up elsewhere. With both gone, the Bengals could well turn to Jerome Simpson and Jordan Shipley, or they could grab Green if he falls.

That said, I feel the Bengals look for help on the defensive line. Antwan Odom can't seem to stay healthy, and Carlos Dunlop could use a running buddy at DE to work along side him.

On a personal perspective, I'm VERY weary if I'm a front office head about taking guys like Bowers. When you're picking this high, taking a player who is so inconsistent and really was a one-year wonder scares the hell out of me. That said, Bowers was damn near unblockable in 2010, and gave some team enough tape footage to spend a first rounder, a high one at that on him. Cincinnati has never shied (in recent memory) from players like Bowers, they won't now. 
1/18/11 4:43 PM
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Nanook
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(Picks 5-7)

5. Arizona Cardinals
Prince Amukamara
CB
Nebraska

- Once, not long ago, the Arizona Cardinals were the offense to watch. Kurt Warner chucking the football to Larry Fitzgerald, finding Anquan Boldin and watching him break tackles for a tough gain, or finding Steve Breaston and the other core of recievers. The Cardinals, just on the heels of their passing game alone, were a complete nightmare for opposing defenses. Add the improvement of their running game, and you had a tough fight each time you stepped foot on the field with the Redbirds.

In 2010, the Cardinals went from complete nightmare for opposing defenses to complete nightmare across the board. With the retirement of Kurt Warner; and Arizona's brainchild plan to replace him with Derek Anderson and an undrafted free agent rookie; and the departure of Anquan Boldin, the Cardinal passing game was a complete joke, finishing 31st in the NFL in passing and total yards and 27th in total yards. The rushing game also disappeared again, falling to 32nd in the league. Really, the only thing seperating this team from complete ineptness was the efforts of Larry Fitzgerald, who played about as well as he possibly could have with the deck he was dealt.

As bad as the offense was, the defense was no better. The Cardinals couldn't stop the run (finished ranked 30th in total rushing yards allowed), were below average against the pass (23rd) and gave up a ton of yards. As was the case with the offense, the defense was depleted with departures of prominent players (Karlos Dansby and Antrel Rolle), however improvements are needed.

Obviously, quarterback seems to be the answer here. Derek Anderson and the words "Starting QB" should never again be mentioned in the same sentence; while Max Hall looked like the best third string QB in the NFL in his starting opportunity. John Skelton looked pretty respectable in his limited opportunity, however is he a long term option to start, or a very good backup? This is the decision Ken Whisenhunt has to spend the next few months pondering and debating. If he indeed feels Skelton is worth a long look, I fully expect Arizona to grab one of the available potential free agents (Donovan McNabb) and hope for a Kurt Warner-esque revival, while giving Skelton his just deserved opportunity to develop.

I also feel that Cam Newton's performance in the BCS National Title Game answered many questions as to how viable he would be as an immediate starter, and may have made Arizona's decision for them. Realistically, the game exposed many of Newton's flaws and knocked him down a few pegs. He's still a first rounder for sure, but for a guy like Ken Whisenhunt who finds himself unfairly on the hot seat going into 2011, he can't afford to gamble. Frankly, not one of the quarterbacks available in the draft at this stage are worth spending the 5th overall pick on, Newton to me at first seemed the only other one who did.

So where do the Cards go from here? Their pass rush sucks. It's concievable they could spend the fifth pick on a Robert Quinn or Aldon Smith, both of whom would fit a big need as a 3-4 rush linebacker. Also, with big showings at the combine, Von Miller (who is the ideal 3-4 rush linebacker in this year's draft) or Ryan Kerrigan could find themselves in Arizona's sights. Or, they could wind up with Georgia's Justin Houston in Round 2, which would be their best option.

As of now, I think Arizona goes for the best player available, who on my big board would be Amukamara. While many people consider Patrick Patterson to be the best CB prospect to come along in quite some time, Amukamara may be right up there with him. The guy is an outright stud who shows signs of being a shutdown CB. He's just what the doctor ordered for Arizona's sagging secondary.

6. Cleveland Browns
Marcell Dareus
DT/DE
Alabama

- What does a team with more holes than draft picks do to fix their problems?

Let's start at the top of what the Browns DON'T need.

I feel Colt McCoy will be given a full opportunity to start in 2011, he showed enough in 2010 working with less than a limited deck of WRs and still was productive. Thus, QB is likely out of the picture.

Peyton Hillis was the mother of all off-season steals. He, and the Browns, are set at HB.

The Offensive Line is decent. No need to spend a first there.

Everything else? Fix it. Ideally, the Browns would love to get a playmaker at WR to give McCoy a weapon to throw to. However, at 6 AJ Green will be long gone. If the small chance occurs that he falls to 6, Cleveland will waste zero time picking him. While the Browns need help at WR, with Green gone and 6 being too high of a reach for them to take the next best WR (Julio Jones), I see Cleveland looking elsewhere.

I feel the direction they go is at Defensive End. The Browns pass rush is dreadful and their starting DE are Kenyon Coleman and Brian Schafering, who between them netted 2.5 sacks total.

Dareus is a good fit for Cleveland's defense because he can play either Defensive End or Defensive Tackle, and fits in any scheme. While he's not the potential disruptive force that Fairley is, playing motivated is never an issue with him, and I see him being a consistent cog in the middle. Where I viewed Fairley as an Albert Haynesworth, I see Dareus as a Trevor Pryce. For Cleveland, that's a pretty nice addition.

7. San Francisco 49ers
JJ Watt
DE/DT
Wisconsin

- The biggest need for San Francisco going into the draft is obvious.. Quarterback. Alex Smith was a bust (many variables were behind his failure to develop, but I digress) and won't be back.

Quite honestly however, for a guy like Jim Harbaugh who looks for certain intangibles in a quarterback, none of the players available at this point fit his style, and quite honestly in my view, I'm not sold on ANY of the first round graded quarterbacks. If I'm San Francisco, I'm taking my chances on Troy Smith, with a QB picked in the second or third and waiting to go after the QB in NEXT year's class (Luck, Matt Barkley?) rather than spending a first on one this year.

Where I see the 49ers going here is Defensive End. The platoon of Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald can be upgraded, and Watt is a player I'm very high on. Watt's story may be one of the more interesting rags to riches ones in this year's draft.

Originally, Watt started his collegiate career as a tight end for Western Michigan, before transferring to Wisconsin to be closer to his family, including a family member with cancer. From there, he walked on to the Badger program, before earning a scholarship after his sophomore campaign.

Noone in this draft has a better work ethic than Watt, and while he's still developing as a defensive player, his intangibles make him a very plum prospect. As for what to look at, Watt can bet be defined as a stat stuffer. In 2010, he led the Big 10 and finished 3rd nationally in tackles for loss (21). He led Wisconsin with 7 sacks. He's ALWAYS in the backfield it seems, whether finding the halfback or quarterback. On top of things, his intangibles and work ethic are second to none. He has a non-stop motor, and does not take plays off. He's growing as a player, and still has huge upside. He's also smart and instinctual, and is a model teammate.

Sound like a Jim Harbaugh type player to you? Yep.. Me too.
1/18/11 4:46 PM
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Nanook
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(Picks 8-10)

8. Tennessee Titans
Ryan Mallett
QB
Arkansas

- In my original mock, I still had questions as to who would survive the Vince Young- Jeff Fisher feud, and return to Nashville for 2011. Much to my surprise, the Titans seemingly made the right choice and gave their long tenured coach another year, while sending the former #3 overall pick packing for destinations unknown.

Now with Young gone and Fisher returning, Tennessee's pick became much easier to dictate and predict. Kerry Collins is geriatric, and Rusty Smith certainly isn't the answer.

I'm going to go on record and say this.. Others are much higher on Mallett than I am. Granted, he has the physical tools to kill for. He's got a big time arm, has been fairly accurate this season (he has a 67 percent completion rate this year, which is damn impressive considering the level of competition he's played against) and has averaged over 10 yards a completion. He's capable of making all the throws in the world and has good size, and is physically tough.

Now for the knocks.

First, he has major off field concerns. Wes Bunting of National Football Post recently spoke with an NFL scout, who was quoted as saying "I got stuff on Mallett that no one even knows about, and I wouldn't touch him with a ten foot pole." The most KNOWN of the off-field issues is that he has been known to be found at the clubs when he should have been in the film room. Supposedly, there's more that are "not public knowledge."

Second, he's dumb as a box of rocks. In fact, I just recieved a letter from the Box of Rocks' legal council telling me to refrain from comparing them to someone as stupid as Mallett. When it's said and done, he may make Vince Young's Wonderlic score look high by the time he takes the test. Decision making has ALWAYS been in question with him.

On field? His footwork sucks, he's got the mobility of an offensive tackle on a 40 and over flag football team; and his release is dreadfully slow.

Then, you throw in the Bobby Petrino factor, and the fact that Petrino has a piss poor history of developing quarterbacks for the next level. The names Dave Raggone, Brian Brohm, Chris Redman and Stefan LeFors will elicit more groans than praise when talking to NFL fans. Perhaps it's the play calling, perhaps it's the coach, however with Mallett one automatically winds up with questions as to whether Mallett isn't just another system QB of Petrino's who will flop on the next level.

All these are worth noting, however someone will take a flier on him because of his physical assets. Will Jeff Fisher want to put up with the potential headaches after dealing with Vince Young? Hard to say, although reportedly Mallett gets along with coaches fairly well. Also, Fisher seems to favor the guy.

Plus, Bud Adams has seen enough of him being in SEC country and reportedly loves the guy also. Both being in Mallett's corner, after the Young fiasco, is the first step and a big plus. As of now, Mallett is the guy who of the quarterbacks available could step in immediately and start, despite his major flaws. With the quarterbacks Tennessee has on their roster currently, this makes Mallett a name to look at with this pick.

9. Dallas Cowboys
Cameron Jordan
DE/DT
Cal

- Like former Golden Bear teammate Tyson Alualu last year, Jordan will find himself projected lower than he actually gets picked. People crapped all over the Alualu pick from the start, and they likely will do the same with Jordan here.

Yet, lost in the shuffle of discussion with people complaining about the pick is the fact that Alualu had a very respectable rookie campaign. Again, expect Jordan to be the same.

A starter from the get-go, and coming from an excellent family pedigree (his father Steve was a 13 year NFL veteran and six-time Pro Bowler), Jordan was an impact playmaker and has schemeatic versitility that will make him a cog in Dallas' defense. He's disruptive when he's put in the position to be, has good ball instincts and is a sure fire tackler who always finds himself in play. He's a solid contributor who will make his name felt each week. His upside is somewhat limited, and he may never be the type of guy who goes to a bunch of Pro Bowls, but I see him as a solid, routine contributor who does everything right.

As of now, Dallas' biggest need is at cornerback, as they got embarrassed in the final seven weeks by John Skelton and Rex Grossman, to name a few. However, with both Patrick Patterson and Prince Akwamura gone here, Dallas grabbing a CB this high may be a bigger reach and gamble than taking Jordan. Also, while CB IS their biggest need, RDE may be right up there, as Igor Olshansky just isn't getting the job done and Dallas could certainly use an upgrade.

10. Washington Redskins
Blaine Gabbert
QB
Missouri

- Needless to say, the Donovan McNabb- Mike Shanahan/Washington Redskin marriage is over. The ride was short, tumultuous and frankly didn't work out for either side.

While McNabb did sign a contract extension mid-season, there's also a clause in it where Washington could move on after the 2010 season without penalty. I'd bet the farm the Skins will exercise that clause and frankly it's best for both sides to move on.

With McNabb gone, once again the Redskins find themselves searching for a quarterback. They surely cannot go in to 2011 with Rex Grossman starting, that's a recipe for disaster.

Once again, as mentioned with Mallett, I think the Redskins are far better suited to go after Kyle Orton or a Marc Bulger, draft Pat Devlin or Ricky Stansi in the second/third or even go back with McNabb, which clearly didn't work than go with any of the QB in the first round.

Not to squeeze on Gabbert here, he does have some tools in his favor. He's got prototypical size for the QB position, a cannon for an arm, good mechanics, and good legs. He's not Cam Newton, but he's the next best thing in the draft when it comes to mobility. Also, he really does have the drive to learn, despite his work ethic being questioned at times. I love his leadership skills too. He's up there with Newton in this avenue.

Now the downers.. He's inaccurate as hell with the deep ball (is good in short yardage accuracy), played in a gimmick offense (and only threw 15 TD this year in an offense where he should have thrown a hell of a lot more-- part of this may be unselfishness on his part, and knowledge of when to pass and when to throw, which certainly isn't a flaw in either case, it's actually a plus), his conditioning is always in question and his footwork sucks. Yes, there's a difference between mobility and good footwork. You can be mobile and have poor footwork mechanics.

I view Gabbert as Josh Freeman. I think some of his flaws are fixable, and I think a good quarterback coach and offensive coordinator will be able to do work with him and utilize his strengths right of the bat while developing him. I like him a hell of a lot more than I like Mallett, although I think he'll be the second QB off the board because Bud Adams jerks over his southern boys.

Of the quarterbacks out there, he's less of a risk than Mallett, may be able to start sooner than Newton or Jake Locker and seems to have a lower bust factor. At worst, I see him having staying power as a backup, whereas at least two of the four I see being complete boom or bust, and the third I feel is on a fringe boom-bust level.

Gabbert's the lesser of the four evils, and Washington needs a QB.
1/18/11 4:49 PM
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Nanook
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(Picks 11-15)

11. Houston Texans
Von Miller
DE/OLB
Texas A&M

- Changes are a-coming to the Texan defense, and frankly they're long overdue.

For as good as the Texan offense is, their defense remains dreadful The team took the first major step towards improving it by firing Frank Bush and replacing him with Wade Phillips. While Phillips the head coach leaves a lot to be desired, Phillips as a defensive coordinator is exceptional. I honestly rank him as one of the top five defensive minds in the game. He alone will improve the overall fortunes of the Texan defense, yet they still need talent to work with.

Don't get me wrong, the Texans aren't completely talent void on defense. Mario Williams is a stud, who continues to prove the talking heads that called him the "Sam Bowie" to Reggie Bush and Vince Young's Michael Jordan are complete morons. Brian Cushing is also a chip to build with, DeMaco Ryans is underrated, Conor Barwin is developing, Kareem Jackson is a good second hand at CB, and Bernard Pollard is a hammer. Yet, they still need a few more pieces before they're complete.

I fully forsee them signing Nnmandi Asomaugh to fix their secondary woes. Or, at worst, I see them winding up with Champ Bailey. Either way, Houston will address their secondary this off-season, and I see them going for a vet rather than another rookie, because Gary Kubiak isn't naive enough to buy that he will keep his job beyond 2011 if the Texans miss the playoffs again, or further regress like they did in 2010.

In the draft, I think they can be a little more creative at the OLB position to get another rusher for the new 3-4 defense. Having Williams, Ryans, Cushing and Smith working with whomever they draft will help elivate the learning curve. Whomever they'd get at CB wouldn't quite get the same curve.

With the shift to the 3-4, Houston will need a nose tackle to pair with ends Williams and Smith. Ryans and Cushing would play inside linebacker, while the outside pass rushers would be Connor Barwin and whomever they draft. To me, there's not a better player suited for the 3-4 than Miller, who had a monster junior season, then followed with a very good senior campaign. The Texans will find him to be the perfect compliment to Mario Williams, and will find themselves with a dynamic pass rush duo for many years to come.

12. Minnesota Vikings
Alden Smith
DE
Missouri

- Another new addition to the Big Board, Smith is widely expected to declare for the draft. The Vikings will be losing Ray Edwards this off-season, and find themselves in need of a young replacement across from Jared Allen. Smith is an athletic freak of nature, who puts bone smashing pressure on quarterbacks. His pass rush skills are potent, proven by the fact that he notched 4.5 sacks this year despite an injury filled 2010 that caused him to miss a large number of games.

There's a very real possibility, QB could be the pick here also. Brett Favre once again has announced his retirement. Of course we've heard this before.. Many times before. However, with the turmoil that has surrounded him in 2010, and the injuries taking a toll on him to the point where it's causing him to miss games, for some odd reason, I actually believe him this time. I think more people would be surprised if he DID remain retired than if he had a change of mind, me being one. That said, even if Favre does come back, Minnesota needs to find a quarterback to groom for the future, as Favre is only going to get older. However, by this point, all the first rounders are off the board, and picking one would be a healthy reach. I also feel the Vikings would be better suited to trade for Kyle Orton and grooming Joe Webb if Favre retires, if he doesn't, they could go with Cam Newton here, or they could wind up sticking with Webb and waiting to see what happens in 2012.

I see defense being it with this pick regardless.

13. Detroit Lions
Robert Quinn
DE/OLB
North Carolina

- The Lions biggest need is cornerback, however the top three are gone, and the others are reaches at this stage.

What's not a reach will be Quinn, who at 13 is a major steal for the Lions.

Arguably the most talented pass rusher to come out of North Carolina in some time, Quinn fits PERFECTLY in all of Jim Schwartz' defensive schemes and is a disruptive force, who draws many comparisons to another former UNC pass rushing menace, Julius Peppers.

NCAA rules violations caused him to be suspended for the entire 2010 season. While I'm all about laying down the law, Quinn's suspension was one of the few I'd disagree with, as his violations were secondary and petty. Yet, the powers that be decided to lay down the law. This may cause Quinn's value to drop, but not far enough.

The Lions will get a real steal at 13, and with he at his best and Suh at the DT/DE position, the Lion defense takes one step closer to being complete, while the franchise slowly moves back to respectability.

14. St. Louis Rams
Julio Jones
WR
Alabama

- What a difference a year, and a draft pick makes.

At this time last season, the Rams were concluding a one-win season, and seemingly had no hope for the forseeable future.

One good draft, a few quality free agent signings later, and 12 months later, the Rams took a major step forward. Yes, they finished 7-9 in the worst conference in football, however the six-win improvement must be noted, as should the fact that they were playing for the NFC West title in the final week of the regular season.

The biggest reason behind their rise, and seemingly hopeful future was Sam Bradford, their number one overall pick last season. Bradford was able to overcome the knee injuries that sidelined him in his senior season, doubts that he'd be able to survive behind St. Louis' offensive line and questions as to whether he was a product of Bob Stoops' less than stellar pro QB development system to have an excellent rookie campaign. He has clearly established that he's the real deal, and will only improve from here.

In order to continue to allow Bradford to grow, they need to walk away from the draft with a true #1 wide out for him. Danny Amendola wound up being a true diamond in the rough and a bargain basement steal, however he's more suited for the slot/#2 WR spot. By bringing in a go-to-WR, it actually makes him more able to expand on his growing skills.

Jones fits the role of go-to-guy to a tee. He's got prototype size (6'4), deceptive speed and shiftiness for his size, toughness and big game experience against top quality defense.

His biggest cons are the fact that he drops WAY too many passes and sometimes shies away from going over the middle and taking big hits. On a talent perspective though, the ability to be a #1 and go to target for Bradford is there, and the Rams will be all too happy to work with him to try and fix some of those flaws.
1/18/11 4:52 PM
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Nanook
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(Picks 15-16)

15. Miami Dolphins
Mark Ingram
HB
Alabama

- Surprisingly, Miami's offense (which was expected to take a major step forward with Brandon Marshall in town) took a big step backwards in 2010. Only Carolina scored fewer touchdowns than Miami's 25, and the team often found trouble developing a routine.

Part of that huge dip was due to having a geriatric old fart, Dan Henning, at offensive coordinator, who's offensive philosophies should have been put out to pasture in the '80s, and the fact that the dumbass would screw any routine Miami had going and any groove they had by relying on the Wildcat, which can follow Henning's ass out of town. Fortunately, a new offensive coordinator will be brought in one way or the next.

What needs to next be brought in is an upgrade at the running back position. For some reason, both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams never quite seemed to get it going in 2010. Once again, this can partially be blamed on Henning, however even when they tried to rely on the run, something seemed lacking. Both Williams and Brown are free agents, both have a ton of mileage anyhow and likely won't be brought back.

Drafting Ingram would allow Miami to return to a reliance on the running game. All Ingram has done at Alabama is produce and produce big. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner and patriarch behind the Crimson Tide's National Title had a very good freshman campaign, a dominant sophomore one and in each proved he is capable of carrying an offense. He has the right size and speed to be a featured back on the NFL level, a brilliant football IQ and comes from a strong pedigree both on the college level and personally, as his father also had a successful NFL career.

How good is Ingram, and how high are his expectations? By his standards, he had a "let down" 2010.. Yet, despite only playing 10 games, battling nagging injuries all season and having teams triple stack him defensively, he still rushed for 875 yards and had 13 touchdowns.

Ingram's gonna be a stud on the next level. He's going to be a welcomed addition to Miami's stagnant offense.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars
Cam Newton
QB
Auburn

- This could be the most telling storyline in the entire draft if it comes to fold. Newton's history at Florida still sticks over his head, and Jacksonville is very much Florida Gator country.

Will Gator fans forget his transgressions at UF? Or, will they look at his major upside potential, and see what he did for Auburn, and realize that if he hits big, he could be the jolt of energy that franchise DESPERATELY needs? Either way, I can and do see Newton putting asses in the seat for a franchise that needs any help they can get.

It's almost ironic, 12 months ago, a LARGE number of Jaguar fans wanted Tebow badly. They'll get his backup, a guy they're familiar with and one who won a National Title of his own. Also, if you look at him and Tebow as PLAYERS ALONE (put aside the personal character of each), the two are a lot more similar than most realize.

Looking at prospective situations, outside of Minnesota, I really don't see a better one for Newton. He's going to need a year or two to fully acclimate to the speed of the NFL and to learn the NFL playbook and defenses of it. He's never had to deal with a complex playbook; as Urban Meyer and Gene Chizik/Gus Malzahn had their own funky play calling that really does nothing to prepare these QB for the next level.

Yet, in Jacksonville he'd get to sit and learn for a year or two behind the vastly underrated David Garrard, then take over when he's ready. Where Jacksonville benefits besides the potential spike in ticket sales is the fact that while Garrard has been a classic overachiever, and still remains ridiculously underrated, he's going to be 33 next season. The Jags have nothing behind him in terms of something to grab for the future, and Newton could offer them this. Granted, Jack Del Rio is on the hottest of hot seats going into the 2011 season, and I can't envision another playoff-less January will bode well for his chances to retain employment. However, Jacksonville really isn't as far off as some people seem. Grab a DE via free agency, maybe get a CB to work with in that avenue, and I think Jacksonville cracks through, especially in a division where Houston is so questionable, Tennessee seems to be a mess.

Newton has many question marks in my opinion. I don't think he's ready for the NFL just yet, think he needs a year or two on the pine to adjust and learn, and a few red flag character flaws. The buzz and backstory behind his expulsion from Florida will fairly or unfairly hang over his head for awhile, and on top of things the team that gets him also winds up with Old Man Newton. We all know HIS story. In this case, for whoever drafts Newton, it is buyer beware, but Newton did seem to turn it around in 2010.

Another question I have is that teams really only have a one-year body of work to judge, and while that one year was a DAMN good one, it's hardly much to hang my head on. In the BCS title game, quite a few weknesses were exploited, and it was never more apparent that Newton will clearly be a work in progress for whomever drafts him. Again, this shouldn't be much of an issue in Jacksonville though.

Also said, he does have several top intangibles you look for in a QB. He has huge upside, great mobility and a strong, fairly accurate arm. He also is a great leader on field, and is cool under pressure. The physical tools and intangibles are there. I think he's the biggest boom-bust player in the draft by far. However, in this case, he'll not be rushed into the starting role right away, and this fit could be a good one for both parties involved.

1/18/11 5:01 PM
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Nanook
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(Picks 17-20)

17. New England Patriots (from Oakland)
Ryan Kerrigan
DE/OLB
Purdue

- This pick was acquired by New England in the Richard Seymore deal. While some Pat fans had hopes and beliefs the pick would be a top 10 one at the start of the season, Oakland had a much improved 2010, and managed to bump the pick down a few dozen notches from where Pat fans hoped to pick.

Regardless, the Patriots win big here. If EVER there was a player who fits the Bill Belichick mold of player, it's Kerrigan.

Kerrigan offers them just that. Not only is he a player with a non-stop motor, a work ethic to kill for, top flight intangibles, schematic versitility and an ability to stop the run as a compliment to his pass rush skills; he's also an ideal compliment to what they're building on their offensive line.

He lacks eye popping physical tools, and will likely never have double digits in sacks, or other overwhelming stats. He also really doesn't have much in terms of upside, and is going to more or less be a "what you see is what you get" player.

However, when I say "what you see is what you get", that "what you get" is damn good. He's a consummate worker, a team leader, has fire in his ass that cannot be taught. He's also smart as hell, and it wouldn't amaze me to see him wind up with a high Wonderlic score. He's got a non-stop motor, an eye for the ball, and may be the draft's most surefire tackler. He'll notch a team 70-80 tackles and 5-6 sacks a year.

As I said, I don't envision him being a Pro Bowl regular, yet I see him having a very lengthy career as a starter who will do all the dirty little things, and do everything right.

Again.. As mentioned with JJ Watt to Jim Harbaugh, does Ryan Kerrigan sound like a Bill Belichick guy or what? It's almost fitting a round peg in a round hole. The Pats certainly could use help on their defensive line too.

New England COULD go after a Wide Receiver here, as outside of Wes Welker, the Pats WR core is underwhelming. However, with two picks, they can kill two birds with one stone. Plus, Belichick has passed on much higher heralded wideouts in the past than the ones who will be available at this point, however if somehow Julio Jones falls, he COULD get a look. At days end though, I see New England going after a WR in Round 2, where there will be some respectable ones available. Plus, knowing Belichick, he'll pick some unknown backup from New Hampshire who will have a Pro Bowl career. Some guys have all the luck.

18. San Diego Chargers
Adrian Clayborn
DE
Iowa

- Shawne Merriman is now in Buffalo and Larry English has been a disappointment. Beyond this, the Chargers are in need of a disruptive force who fits their defensive needs.

Clayborn, on talent alone, may be one of the best players in this draft. He's a player a coach will quickly fall in love with, because of his emotional leadership and no quit mentality. He'd be a dream scenario for the Charger defense, as he fits the 3-4 perfectly, and he'd quickly become the defensive force the Chargers have been missing lately.

Two things really have dropped Clayborn's stock. First, he had some very public off the field happenings in 2009, including an arrest for assault. Second, his numbers dipped in 2010, however for his credit, a lot of that was due to opposing offensive line coaches putting plans to work against Clayborn.

At 19, he's tremendous value on talent alone.

19. New York Giants
Tyron Smith
OT
USC


- I originally had the Giants penned to take Travis Lewis, then was informed that he's going back to college for his senior campaign.

With that said, I retort back to my original belief that the Giants go offensive line with their first rounder. Neither Kareem McKenzie nor David Diehl are getting any younger. McKenzie will be 32 at the start of the 2011 season, and Diehl will be 31. Both are still productive, but in a position as physically demanding as Offensive Tackle, once you get to a certain age, the wear and tear begins to show. Both McKenzie and Diehl are reaching the point where they're getting close.

Smith has quickly and to some degree quietly had a very solid college career. During his sophomore campaign, he proved himself to be an exceptional pass blocking left tackle. Then, in his junior year, he moved to the right side and proved to be an equally good run blocker.

For the Giants pressing forward, having a player like Smith can only help.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cameron Hayward
DE/OLB
Ohio State

- Not long ago, Tampa Bay was the prototype defense that every team in the National Football League wanted to be.

Unfortunately, age happened and the crux of the Tony Dungy-built teams retired, aged, or were otherwise sent packing. Over the last few seasons, the new regime has worked diligently to rebuild what the Bucs once had. Now, they need to focus on fixing the defensive end hole, as Michael Bennett and Tim Crowder just don't cut the mustard and the Bucs could use an upgrade.

While I was a hell of a lot higher on Hayward last year than I am now (even after his dominant performance in the Sugar Bowl), I also believe he would offer the Buccaneers the upgrade at DE that they need.

What I like about Hayward is his bloodlines (he's the son of the late "Ironhead" Craig Hayward), his multiple position experience (he worked as a 5 technique DE and a DT at Ohio State) and has the size, power and adjustment to double teams that should push him to be a 10-12 sack a year type of player. The Hayward we saw in the Sugar Bowl was he at his highest potential.

What I dislike? He hasn't shown consistency. One game, he'll be the best player on the field, the next you'll barely know he's even on it. His motor runs too hot and cold, he doesn't always use his strengths to his advantage and he's not the best closer.

I think someone will take him based on what they saw in the Sugar Bowl and based off his upside. Tampa needs DE help, and help next to Gerald McCoy. Perhaps having some protection will allow Heyward to be what he's capable of being.
1/18/11 5:02 PM
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Nanook
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(Picks 21-24)

21. Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathan Baldwin
WR
Pitt

- The Chiefs took major strides this season towards finally returning to respectability, making the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With the West being a mess, San Diego seeming like they took a step backwards, Oakland being.. Well, Oakland and Denver being an epic disaster (I honestly think Josh McDaniels set that franchise back 3-4 years with his stupid moves and draft picks), Kansas City is in a position to sustain the success they had in 2010. Granted, they were overwhelmed and dispatched quickly come playoff time, but for a growing team, baby steps are baby steps.

What the Chiefs do with this pick is in question. Frankly, I'm not sold on Matt Cassell, and won't ever be. In my view, he's just not a good quarterback, and if I were Kansas City, I'd strongly consider looking at Jake Locker here. That in mind, Scott Pioli loves the guy, so likelihood of them going this route is slim.

OLB is another position they could look at. Mike Vrabel has had a hell of a career, and his leadership ability has proven once again to be invaluable, however he IS 35 years old, and an infusion of youth and a long term replacement is needed. I honestly think Akeem Ayers of UCLA would be a nice fit here.

However, ultimately I think the Chiefs biggest need is another WR. Dwayne Bowe is a quality WR who doesn't get the recognition he should, however lined up across from him this season were: Chris Chambers, Verran Tucker and Terrance Cooper. Needless to say, something needs to be done to upgrade.

With both Michael Floyd and Justin Blackmon returning to college, Baldwin's stock rightfully shoots back up the draft boards and now finds himself to be the #3 WR on board, and back in the first round. If somehow Julio Jones doesn't fall to St. Louis, I could even see Baldwin going as high as there, however right now I have him on KC's wishlist for their first rounder.

What Baldwin has going for him: he's a good fit for Kansas City's offense. He is a guy who in an offense that has quick halfbacks will offer mismatches to opposing defenses. He was highly productive in a pro style offense, although his numbers in 2010 dipped from his huge sophomore campaign. Granted, that largely can be attested to the fact that Tino Sunseri is utter crap. Baldwin has very steady hands, as mentioned previously is an immediate mismatch for 95 percent of the cornerbacks in the NFL due to his height (6'5), runs a pretty solid route and should be adequate at this in the next level as well, is a dangerous red zone target, and isn't afraid to jump for the ball. He also works hard for poorly thrown balls. He also comes from a school that has produced some pretty good WR in the past.

His downers: his speed is average, he doesn't have much in terms of seperation skills, and has to work for more catches than he should. His second step needs work, and if he develops it, he could wind up being a perennial Pro Bowler. As is, even without the speed, I could see him being a bigger, less physical Anquan Boldin.

For Kansas City, who trotted out WR fresh off the Florida Tuskers roster, that's certainly enough for them to be intrigued. Plus, he fits Kansas City's offense, so this seems to be a smart and logical pick.

22. Indianapolis Colts
Stephen Paea
DT
Oregon State

- After going to the Super Bowl last season and finishing 14-2 in the regular season, it's fair to say 2010 was a pretty big disappointment all across the board for the Colts. Granted, for most teams, 10-6 and another division title/ playoff appearance is an oasis, but the stakes have been raised for the Colts to the point where this can be called disappointing.

Whereas the cornerback position could be looked at here, and Brandon Harris being high on my list of talents to watch, I think the Colts have much bigger needs, and their draft pick is going to come on the line.

Do the Colts take an OT here? God knows, Peyton Manning felt more pressure than he has in recent memory, and the absolute LAST thing Indianapolis wants is for him to suffer a serious injury. It certainly wouldn't stun me to see them take Boston College's Anthony Costanzo, Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi or Florida's Mike Pouncey here. Ultimately, they HAVE to protect the franchise at all costs.

That said, this year's crop of OLinemen is to the point where the Colts can wait and grab an equally adequate one in the second. With their first rounder, the Colts will attempt to fix a hole they've had almost as long as Manning has been in town-- a true run stuffing DT. They've recycled names galore, none have done the job. Paea will. He's capable of playing two slots, can rush the passer and is a road grading run stuffer, something Indianapolis has lacked for years. I have Paea as a top ten talent, and an absolute steal at 22. I think he's perhaps the best run stuffer in the draft, but not as disruptive of a pass rusher, which will cause his stock to drop a bit. However, for Indy, it's Christmas late.

23. New Orleans Saints
Brandon Harris
CB
Miami (FL)

- While Gregg Williams has done a fantastic job of putting an otherwise patchwork defense into something that won a Super Bowl, Saturday's playoff loss to Seattle proved that the Saints need the talent on defense, specifically in the secondary, to have staying power.

Think about this.. Matt Hasselbeck had his way with them.. Matt Hasselbeck is no joke of a QB, but even in his PRIME, he wasn't a guy you could expect to put up major yards. He tore the Saint secondary to shreds, and this was with a bunch of no names at WR.

If they get Harris here, we're talking one steal right after another. If you recall, in my previous draft I had Harris going as high as Houston at 11. I think size works against him (5'11) but he's every bit as good of a cover corner as Prince Amukamara and a little shiftier and quicker to the ball.

24. Philadelphia Eagles
Anthony Constanzo
OT
Boston College

- The Eagles allowed 49 sacks this year.. This is with one of the best scrambling QB in the NFL as starter.

I think it's fair to say, the Eagles need help here. I'm higher on Constanzo than most. While some go for upside, Constanzo's is limited. Yet, I see him being a consistant, long term starter and is great in pass protection. He also comes from a school with a strong tradition in developing quality NFL Olinemen.

May not be the "high upside" pick some want, but I think it's the correct one.
1/18/11 6:34 PM
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east
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 Thanks Nanook, I love the Tyron Smith pick for the Giants.  Guy looks like a beast but undersized at the tackle position no?




1/19/11 11:11 AM
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Nanook
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(Picks 25-27)

25. Seattle Seahawks
Jake Locker
QB
Washington

- The Seahawks in Year 1 under Pete Carroll took steps foward, winning the NFC West title. Granted, the NFC West seemed to be a battle weekly to determine which one sucked the least amount, with Seattle proving itself to be the least inept. They took another step by silencing the critics and WINNING a playoff game no less, before being shut down by Chicago.

While 2010 may have been the first step forward, the Seahawks are still very much an unfinished proudct. Their pass rush sucks, specifically at DE where they cleared house in 2010 and didn't move mountains to bring in clear cut upgrades. Their run defense isn't exactly world beating either.. Come to think of it, neither is their secondary; as the Hawks gave up nearly 700 yards passing in their two playoff games.

That in mind, I cannot help but believe if Locker falls anywhere near where Seattle picks, the Hawks will take him. The fact that he's a local legend and is a player Pete Carroll is all too familiar with are icing on the cake. Reality is, Matt Hasselbeck has had a very strong NFL career and done good things in the Pacific Northwest; however he's going to be 36 next year, has quite a bit of milage on the tires and won't be around forever. Let's be honest, do any of you truly think Charlie Whitehurst is capable of being a 16 game starter? Really?

This isn't just an ideal fit for Seattle, it's an ideal fit for Locker. I honestly don't believe there is a player out there who hurt their stock more by going back to school in 2010 than Locker. Last season at this time, there was legitimate buzz that he could go as high as #1 overall if he went pro. However, wanting to "finish what he started," Locker made the choice to return for his senior season at the University of Washington and took a major step backwards.

What we saw from Locker this year was a guy who folds at times, gets mentally rocked under pressure (you can tell within the first three minutes of the game whether Locker's in it or not). When mentally there, Locker has the gifts to beat anyone. When not, look out, it's going to be a long game. The biggest thing proven this year was that Locker isn't ready to be an NFL starter.

That being said, you look at Locker's tools, you see a guy that with refining could wind up being a DAMN good NFL QB, and is a franchise level guy. To make comparisons, best case I see him being Aaron Rodgers Part II.. Worst case, Jake Plummer with less staying power.

Seattle would be ideal, he could learn for a season or two under Matt Hasselbeck, then grow and take over, much like Aaron Rodgers did in Green Bay. Plus, being from Seattle, it will be equally ideal for him, he gets to stay home.

26. Baltimore Ravens
Derek Sherrod
OT
Mississippi State

- I honestly am on the fence as to where the Ravens could go here.

I could easily see them going after Aaron Williams of Texas here, as their pass defense remains the Achilles Heel of their otherwise insanely good defense.

I see them going with an offensive lineman here however for several reasons. The talent is there, Michael Oher is a beast at RT, and Marshall Yanda is as solid of a guard as there is. Problem here is, the Ravens had them out of position. They tried to move Oher to LT, and while he was adequate, lacked the footwork and quickness, and was often beat by speed pass rushers. By doing this, they were forced to move Yanda to RT, when he's better suited for the guard position. He's better suited for the RT position, which also is also where Jared Gaither is best suited for. Ultimately, Gaither is a free agent, and I can't see the Ravens breaking bank to re-sign him, not when Haloi Ngata's a pending free agent himself.

Looking at the Ravens playoff loss, not only did their secondary hurt them, but Flacco found himself constantly under attack in the second half. Granted, it's the Steelers who seemingly make life miserable for even the best of offensive linemen, but this game as much as any exposed the Raven linemen as being out of position. They need a fix to it, and in this case may be one player shy from getting it right.

Sherrod to me has the makings of being an excellent LT in the NFL level. A two-year starter at the position, he has not only proven to be a valuable run blocker (which will benefit a team like Baltimore who is better suited to run the ball) and good in pass protection.

He also has the ideal size and athleticism that NFL teams look for in their left tackles. I worry that his strength and size (especially in the combine, which now teams seem to salivate over the numbers in idiotically) may scare a few teams off. Not Baltimore, who will be all too happy to add a potential franchise LT.

Sherrod's one of those players who could go much higher than I'm projecting him, and if he has a good combine, he could wind up going in the top 15-20 easily. As is, Baltimore gets a hell of a steal.

27. Atlanta Falcons
Justin Houston
DE
Georgia

- For the Falcons, 2010 was a mix of success and disappointment. It was almost a tale of two seasons.

The regular season was a smashing success, as they put together an NFC best 13-3 record (2nd best in the NFL), and had home field advantage throughout the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. The team truly clicked on all cylinders and looked to be a good bet to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Sadly, that home field advantage and all their accomplishments came crashing down in one fell swoop, as the team's defense completely came apart and the team bowed out of the playoffs quickly and emphatically.

The Falcons still need some work it seems, but the nucleus is clearly in place for them to sustain success. 2010's season, which was capped off by the home field advantage and winning a much competitive NFC South is sign they're on the cusp of making a big run. Yet, there's questions and this draft may go places in answering them.

It's very possible the Falcons will go with a left tackle project here, as Sam Baker looks like he could be a very good RT, but seems a liability at times as a LT. They also could upgrade both guard positions.

It's also concievably plausable they could elect to go with a DB like Aaron Williams here, as they got absolutely torched by Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs, and ranked 22nd against the pass in 2010. Although they paid Dunta Robinson a boatload of money last season, they still apparently need more help. When competing in the NFC South, with Drew Brees on your schedule, Tampa Bay's passing game showing yearly improvement, and Carolina bound to improve, you can't continue to win if you're ranking in the bottom half of the NFL in passing yards allowed.

Ultimately though, I see them going with a pass rushing specialist at DE and Houston at this point is the best on the board. John Abraham had a nice 2010 with 13 sacks, but he's going to be 34 in 2011 and outside of him, the Falcons pass rush was essentially non-existent. No matter how good your secondary is, if you have a dead pass rush and noone putting pressure on the QB, even the worst of signal callers are going to torch you.

Houston, in terms of the pass rush skills, may be the most fluid and fast in the draft. With him he has some glaring flaws. He needs to be cast as a 4-3 RE instead of a 3-4 OLB. Putting him as a 3-4 OLB negates his strengths. His motor also runs extremely cold at times and consistency isn't his biggest plus. Don't expect him to be more than a pass rusher either, as this guy is Elvis Dumerville Part II, minus the motor.
1/19/11 11:25 AM
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Tommy Gunnz
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are you writing these all out yourself?
1/19/11 11:28 AM
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Nanook
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28. New England Patriots
Mike Pouncey
Offensive Guard
Florida

- Speaking of huge January disappointments, I give you the New England Patriots.

Heading into the playoffs, there wasn't a team playing better than the Pats. Not only were they killing teams (they beat each of the current four in the conference championship game, and had double digit wins over Pittsburgh, the Jets and Chicago), but Tom Brady was playing as good as he's played in his career, which says quite a large amount.

All roads traveled to the Super Bowl went through New England, and with their past success in January at home, they were the team noone wanted to play.

Noone, but the Jets that is. Steaming off the 42 point thrashing they took in Week 13, Rex Ryan's crew was reportedly "overjoyed" to get New England in the playoffs again, and the "we're not losing" mentality showed, as the Pats were never fully in the game.

With the first pick, I had the Pats take Ryan Kerrigan, who adds another defensive weapon to their roster. This pick, I have them going offense, specifically at Offensive Guard, which is about to become a hole. Logan Mankins is a free agent, and there's too many burnt bridges there on both sides to expect a return. He'll be playing elsewhere in 2011. Stephen Neal has also announced that 2011 will be his last. On the other side, Dan Connelly is going nowhere, but he also overwhelms noone with his ability, minus his moonlighting ability as a punt/kickoff return specialist.

Pouncey is the best available guard in this year's draft. While he has shown versitility to play either guard or center, he's much better suited to play his more natural left guard position on the NFL level, which falls right in line with a pressing need that New England could be facing.
1/19/11 11:30 AM
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Nanook
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east -  Thanks Nanook, I love the Tyron Smith pick for the Giants.  Guy looks like a beast but undersized at the tackle position no?






I think the biggest issue with Smith is just that-- his size. I think he would be best suited to add 20 pounds to his frame, because he's undersized for the LT or RT positions. But with that, on skill, I think he's the best dual blocker in the draft this year and his shiftability at either spot makes him ideal. I liken him to Trent Williams, minus the size and gerth from last year.
1/27/11 12:24 PM
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Nanook
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 Yeah Tommy, these are my own personal write ups.
1/27/11 6:04 PM
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303
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As a Bronco fan there is no way Fairley drops past Denver.
1/27/11 11:13 PM
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C1010
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Jets absolutely need a pass rusher, who do you think they can get at that spot? Actually, a better question what position do you see them drafting (since they have a ton of free agents)?

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